CLEVELAND (AP)—Their season in shambles, the Cleveland Browns left the field on Sunday to an eerie silence and thousands of empty, orange seats.
Another home loss had left them beaten, battered and bewildered.
“There’s no explanation for it,” running back Jamal Lewis said. “We were just all over the place.”
Picked apart by Houston quarterback Sage Rosenfels and unable to do anything once they had the ball, the Browns were humiliated in a 16-6 loss on Sunday to the Texans, who snapped an eight-game road losing streak and dropped Cleveland deeper into a seemingly bottomless abyss of defeat.
Rosenfels passed for 275 yards and a touchdown, and Kris Brown kicked three field goals as the Texans (4-7) got their win away from home since Nov. 4, 2007, at Oakland. All it took was a weekend in chilly Cleveland and a date with the bumbling Browns for Houston to have a road trip to remember.
“When you are on the road and you see the crowd filing out, that’s the way you want it to be,” defensive end Anthony Weaver said.
It has gone from bad to worse for the Browns (4-7).
They lost their third straight at home, made five turnovers and watched their ever-faithful fans, who have endured a decade of dysfunction, leave by the tens of thousands in the final minutes. Unlike the previous two losses, the Browns didn’t blow a double-digit lead as they fell behind 10-0 early and never recovered.
Cleveland quarterback Brady Quinn was pulled in the second half of his third start by coach Romeo Crennel after throwing two interceptions, the second a killer inside Houston’s 10-yard line.
Quinn was playing with a broken right index finger on his throwing hand, but Crennel said the injury was not the lone reason for switching to Derek Anderson, who lost his starting job to Quinn three weeks ago.
“It was a combination of his decisions that could have been a little better and the injury to his finger,” Crennel said in explaining his surprising move. “I decided to play the other guy for a little bit to see if that could give us a spark, and that didn’t work either.”
Nothing, it seems, works for the Browns these days.
Quinn went 8-of-18 for 94 yards, picking up 42 on a pass to Braylon Edwards in the second quarter. Quinn said his fractured finger, which the former Notre Dame star hurt in Monday night’s win over the Buffalo Bills, was not a factor in his poor performance.
Quinn, though, was not clear why he didn’t get to finish the game.
“You would have to ask Coach why I was pulled,” he said. “He was upset with a couple of decisions I made out there. I didn’t have any idea that I was on such a short leash.”
Crennel was adamant that Quinn would remain Cleveland’s No. 1 QB.
“Brady has not lost his job,” Crennel said. “He is still the quarterback and we are going to through the week and prepare him and he is going to play.”
Despite Crennel’s assurance, Quinn wasn’t certain if he’ll lead the offense next week against Indianapolis.
“Whoever the starter is, that’s the starter,” Quinn said. “And if I’m in the backup role, I’ll do the best I can to help D.A. prepare for a game. We’re going to stick together and work through this.”
Cleveland’s loss capped a turbulent week for the Browns, who could be on the verge of another massive rebuild this winter. On Thursday, general manager Phil Savage apologized for sending a profane e-mail to a fan following Monday’s win over the Bills. Savage’s admission was the latest episode in a soap opera of a season perhaps best defined by Edwards’ slippery hands.
A Pro Bowler last season, Edwards leads the NFL in dropped passes. He had three more on Sunday, including a potential TD in the final minutes.
“It would have been difficult, but I hold myself to a higher standard,” Edwards said of the leaping attempt he couldn’t haul in. “That’s a catch that I’ve got to make for this team. I’m not worried about what people on the outside say. I’m just worried about my team. When they are depending on me to make a play, and they’re calling my number I’ve got to deliver.
“I don’t what it is, but I got to go somewhere and get my head together.”
Rosenfels, a career backup, had his best game since replacing injured Matt Schaub three weeks ago. He went 24 of 32 and found Kevin Walter for a 17-yard TD pass in the first quarter. However, Rosenfels nearly let the Browns back in it with two picks in the second half.
Andre Johnson had 10 catches for 116 yards as the Texans also ended a three-game losing streak.
“It’s a great feeling,” Rosenfels said. “It’s a huge, huge win for us. Cleveland’s a tough place to play. For us to come in here and play like this shows a lot about our players and our coaches.”
Brown kicked two 32-yard field goals, one from 38 and had another blocked by Browns NT Shaun Rogers, his 13th career blocked kick. … Browns K Phil Dawson was wide left with a 39-yarder in the fourth quarter, his first miss in 16 attempts. … Texans RB Ahman Green injured his left knee in the third quarter and could be out a few weeks. … Johnson went over 1,000 yards receiving for the third time in his career. He has 1,071 yards on 81 catches.